Allow medical marijuana study for veterans with PTSD to recruit patients at the Phoenix VA
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Posttraumatic stress disorder affects as many as 300,000 veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and leaves many unable to work or function in their daily lives. Suffers of PTSD continually struggle with symptoms such as intrusive memories of the trauma, feelings of detached from family and friends, emotional numbness, outburst of aggressive behavior, and tendency towards self destructive behavior, all of which severely diminish their quality of life. Not only does PTSD severely hurt the veterans who suffer from it, treating veterans with PTSD from Iraq and Afghanistan has cost the U.S more than $2 billion so far, not mention economic cost from stemming disability and inability to work.
Currently, the first line of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, most commonly cognitive processing therapy (CPT) and prolonged exposure (PE) and/or treatment with SSRI. While these therapies do work for some, they don’t work for all veterans. Studies have shown that prolonged exposure therapy only decreases veterans screening positive for PTSD on PTSD checklist by 41.1%. Likewise, SSRIs only allow 20% to 30% of patients to achieve complete remission. The low efficacy of the current treatments, along with the increased prevalence of psychedelic research, has fostered the creation of several studies examining the potential of psychedelics to treat PTSD.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is exploring such treatment options, including a federally approved government-funded study on the potential therapeutic value of marijuana in veterans suffering from PTSD. Currently, despite the fact that medical marijuana is allowed in 28 states, there is a lack of research into its efficacy for treating PTSD.. This study will helps shed light on the drug’s potential, or lack thereof.
Unfortunately, however, the VA Phoenix health care system has been obstructing recruitment of patients for the study, even though it has FDA approval as well as federal funding from the Colorado Health Department. Currently, the Dr. Sisley and her team have nearly completed studies in 23 patients and will need to screen an estimated 6,000-8,000 candidates to find 55 suitable patients. Without allowing recruitment efforts through the VA Phoenix Health care system the study risks failing completion, thereby denying veterans with PTSD the right to know if marijuana will help their symptoms. It is unjust to our veterans, who deserve the respect of having their PTSD take seriously enough to warrant novel scientific studies that have the potential to uncover new treatments for PTSD.
The American Legion, a large and highly respected wartime veterans association, has stood alongside MAPS in this pursuit for science and the wellbeing being of our veterans, and now it’s time for the general public to show our support. Together, we call upon direct support from the VA secretary, David J. Shulkin, to support the continuation of this study by allowing MAPS to proceed with recruitment at the Phoenix VA health care system.
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